Editorial: A retreat on gun safety

Thursday, February 20, 2014

As has happened in similar contests around the country, the Republican primary for governor in Rhode Island is pushing candidates to positions outside the mainstream of Rhode Island voters. Both Republicans in the race, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and Barrington resident Ken Block, have already begun to distance themselves from their earlier, more moderate positions on gun laws.

At the time of the Newtown school shooting, one could have been forgiven for thinking the tragedy would effect systemic change on American gun laws. Sadly, not even the sustained and emotionally charged lobbying efforts of the Newtown families could reach those who opposed even the most moderate restrictions. In state legislatures as well as the federal government itself, these attempts were defeated by the all-powerful National Rifle Association, causing national political positions on gun safety to further ossify.

Block, in the aftermath of the Newtown shooting, indicated tentative support for an assault weapons ban — which, we should be clear, only targets the most dangerous form of guns, not those used for any kind of recreational hunting. Rather than standing by this admirable position that protects all citizens, particularly schoolchildren, and is utterly unthreatening to hunters, Block has chosen the cowardly route. He recently described his earlier sensible beliefs as “a mistake,” influenced by the emotional nature of the Newtown tragedy and promised that he has “no intention or desire to change the gun laws,” according to the Providence Journal.

For his part, Fung once supported increased firearms regulation but now claims that he is a “recreational” shooter and that his firing range experiences have caused him to rethink his past position. While he once supported a measure calling on Congress to renew the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, he now proclaims that he is committed to “upholding the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens,” and that “the real issue is ensuring that guns don’t end up in the hands of criminals,” according to the Providence Journal. Unfortunately for Fung, the growing body of evidence is not on his side — a new study tracking the 2007 repeal of a Missouri law that had mandated gun purchasers to be vetted and licensed has found an increase of roughly 60 additional gun murders per year.

Both candidates are attempting to run to their right while painting their opponent as a flip-flopper. Unfortunately, both have demonstrated that they lack the courage needed to stand up to the most dangerous elements of their party, a decision that will likely prove costly in the general election. Each candidate should rethink their newfound message and refocus on a strategy that can provide safer communities for all Rhode Islanders. With convictions like these, who needs an opposition?


Editorials are written by The Herald’s editorial page board: its editors, Matt Brundage ’15 and Rachel Occhiogrosso ’14, and its members, Hannah Loewentheil ’14 and Thomas Nath ’16. Send comments to editorials@browndailyherald.com.

  • Daniel

    Well, It sounds to me like they had the COURAGE to come to their senses and support our Constitutional Right to bear arms and defend ourselves. Both are to be congratulated, and the real winner here, is the right of Americans to be free from tyranny. Remember, freedoms are eroded bit by bit – – – until you are defenseless – – – at which point government may decide you need to lose them all. Remember Germany in World War 2, The Soviet Union, and modern day South Korea. The first thing all of these “peoples” regimes do, is to disarm the population. The Second Amendment of the US Constitution is not about “sport shooting” or “hunting” – – – it is about freedom.

  • Nope

    “which, we should be clear, only targets the most dangerous form of guns”

    Proof that the Herald Ed. Board knows absolutely nothing about the topic and have zero credibility.

    “Assault weapons” bans (quotations because its a made-up term) ban cosmetic features that have nothing to do with lethality or performance.

    Something that is “dangerous” could potentially kill or injure someone if exposed to certain conditions, escapes it’s container, etc. If a house fills up with gas, it can either explode or suffocate anyone inside, all without any action taken by a human to exacerbate the situation.

    If I put a loaded firearm on the kitchen table of the same house, exactly nothing will happen. A human would have to pick up the weapon, chamber a round, disengage the safety, and pull the trigger in order for someone to be hurt.

    A “dangerous” gun would be a gun that could do all that on it’s own. It’s a collection of metal parts until a person gets involved.